Olea: Olive leaf and hypotension

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 10(4):15

A female patient who had self-prescribed an olive leaf preparation for its supposed antibiotic properties developed hypotension. Blood pressure returned to normal after discontinuation of the medication. This should not be surprising, because olive leaf (Olea europaea) is a traditional anti-hypertensive medicine. The traditional use for “plethora” in Greek-Arabic medicine survives today in the folk medicine of North Africa (Ziyyat). Although failing to receive approval for this use from the German Commission E (Blumenthal et al), at least one human clinical trial has found a statistically significant hypotensive effect on all patients tested (Cherif et al.). Olive leaf is currently being promoted in health food stores as an antiviral and antibiotic, with no mention of its hypotensive effects (Walker). According to Weiss, olive leaf preparations also may cause gastric irritation (Weiss).

Blumenthal, M. [Editor]. Klein, s. [Trans.] The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Massachusetts: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998

Cherif S, Rahal N, Haouala M, Hizaoui B, et al. A clinical trial of a titrated Olea extract in the treatment of essential arterial hypertension. J Pharm Belg 1996 Mar-Apr;51(2):69-71 [French language]

Walker, M. Olive Leaf Extract. New York: Kensington Books, 1997

Weiss, R.F. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, England: Beaconsfield Publishers, 1988

Ziyyat A, Legssyer A, Mekhfi H, Dassouli A, et al. Phytotherapy of hypertension and diabetes in oriental Morocco. J Ethnopharmacol 1997 Sep;58(1):45-54

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